Fame walked softly at the Sheraton-Park Hotel yesterday.Alexander Solzhenitsyn timidly followed Farrah Fawcett-Majors and Joe Namath into a hushed, chandelier-lit room. But the chandelier was only cut-glass, and the celebrities weren't real either. They only looked that way.
"When I look in the mirror, all I can see is Ruthie," said Ruthie Crowe, a student and part-time model. Everyone else, however, sees Diana Ross. "Five, six times a day, every time I'd get into an elevator, that's what I'd hear. It bothered me that people would say I look 'just like' her. Why can't they say 'resemble'?"
One Diana Ross, one Diane Keaton, two Elizabeth Taylors, a Mary Tyler Moore who looked more like Linda Blair, even a Harry Reems, 33 people in all showed up at the Shearton-Park yesterday to see if they really looked like anyone except themselves.
"D.C. is such an orderly town," marveled Arleen Hollis, who works for IPOSA, the photo equipment trade association which sponsored the contest here in connection with the Photo-Show International. "People are so quiet. In Los Angeles, they were jumping all over each other, trying to disfigure everyone and increase their chances."
People, Hollis says, do funny things at look-alike contests. A Farrah Fawcett-Mayors will decide she's a Dolly Parton when the competition looks too steep, people will come in and just ask 'Who do I look like?' expecting the judges to supply an answer, and here in Washington a woman walked in with a 20-year-old ad showing she had posed for a "which one is the real Ann Sheridan" magazine layout for Autolite sparkplugs. "That's her," she said, pointing to one of the pictures. "You can tell because my eyes are smaller."
Look-alikes, if Washington is any indication, don't really look exactly like anyone. They lean more toward resembling relatives of the stars, maybe a brother or a cousin or a long-lost something. But even that distant resemblance can be enough to turn lives all haywire.
"It's bad really," says Elizabeth Taylor look-alike Ann Ennis ("Just like County Ennis") of Seabrook, Md. "Once 50 or 75 people mobbed us at National Airport, they asked our children 'Do you like your mother being a movie star?' And they won't take 'no' for an answer; they'll follow you for hours. Sometimes you have to sign autographs or else they'll pull your hair. And wearing sunglasses just makes it worse."
Lest you think looking-alike is all darkness and gloom, it's worked wonders for Donny Osmond dappelganger Jerry Smulowitz, a real estate salesman.
"It's like a gimmick, that's how I sell a lot of homes," he explained. "A customer picks up on your looks, that is what real estate's all about." And just to reinforce that point, Smulowitz pulls cut a photo of his mother, also in real estate, and also, no kidding, a look-alike, for Zsa Zsa Gabor, to be specific.
"She's only been selling since May and she's already in the million-dollar club," he says proudly. "She ought to be here, but she's in New Orleans accepting her award."
Awards for look-alikes in this contest are not so grandsome, only $50, a camera, a chance to model at the photo show, and a sense of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] accomplishment.
They went yesterday to Michael Vince (a Chevy Chase look-alike), Morris Wallace (Billy Dee Williams), and Crowe (Diana Ross) and Ennis (Elizabeth Taylor).